When the burial was complete, she rode with her son into the hills.
The Go-log tribesmen, sharing her sorrow for their lost leader, stood aside and allowed her to go. Lok-sha had been a great man and too young to die.
Only in the eyes of Norba and his followers did she detect the triumph born of realization that nothing now stood between him and tribal control. Nothing but a slender woman, alien to their land, and Kulan, her fourteen-year-old son.
There was no time to worry now, nor was there time for grief. If ever they were to escape, it must be at once, for it was unlikely such opportunity would again offer itself.
It had been fifteen years since the plane in which she was leaving China crashed in the mountains near Tosun Nor, killing all on board but herself. Now, as if decreed by fate, another had come, and this one landed intact.
Shambe had brought the news as Lok-sha lay dying, for long ago the far-ranging hunter had promised if ever another plane landed, he would first bring the news to her.
If the fierce Go-log tribesmen learned of the landing, they would kill the survivors and destroy the plane. To enter the land of the Go-log was to die.
It was a far land of high, grass plateaus, snowcapped mountains, and rushing streams. There among the peaks were born three of the greatest rivers of Asia--the Yellow, the Yangtze, and the Mekong--and there the Go-log lived as they had lived since the time of Genghis Khan.
Splendid horsemen and savage fighters, they lived upon their herds of yaks, fat-tailed sheep, horses, and the plunder reaped from caravans bound from China to Tibet.
Anna Doone, born on a ranch in Montana, had taken readily to the hard, nomadic life of the Go-log. She had come to China to join her father, a medical missionary, and her uncle, a noted anthropologist. Both were killed in Kansu by the renegade army that had once belonged to General Ma. Anna, with two friends, attempted an escape in an old plane.
Riding now toward this other aircraft, she recalled the morning when, standing beside her wrecked plane, she had first watched the Go-log approach. She was familiar with their reputation for killing interlopers, but she had a Winchester with a telescopic sight and a .45 caliber Colt revolver.
Despite her fear, she felt a burst of admiration for their superb horsemanship as they raced over the plain. Seeing the rifle ready in her hands, they drew up sharply, and her eyes for the first time looked upon Lok-sha.
Only a little older than her own twenty-one years, he was a tall man with a lean horseman's build, and he laughed with pure enjoyment when she lifted the rifle. She was to remember that laugh for a long time, for the Go-log were normally a somber people.
Lok-sha had the commanding presence of the born leader of men, and she realized at once that if she were to survive, it would be because he wished it.
He spoke sharply in his own tongue, and she replied in the dialect of Kansu, which fortunately he understood.
"It is a fine weapon," he said about the rifle.
"I do not wish to use it against the Go-log. I come as a friend."
"The Go-log have no friends."
A small herd of Tibetan antelope appeared on the crest of a low ridge some three hundred yards away, looking curiously toward the crashed plane.
She had used a rifle since she was a child, killing her first deer when only eleven. Indicating the antelope, she took careful aim and squeezed off her shot. The antelope bounded away, but one went to its knees, then rolled over on its side.
The Go-log shouted with amazement, for accurate shooting with their old rifles was impossible at that range. Two of the riders charged off to recover the game, and she looked into the eyes of the tall rider.
"I have another such rifle, and if we are friends, it is yours."
"I could kill you and take them both."
She returned his look. "They,
" she said, indicating the others, "might take it from me. You would not, for you are a man of honor, and I would kill you even as they killed me."
She had no doubt of her position, and her chance of ever leaving this place was remote. Whatever was done, she must do herself.
He gestured toward the wreck. "Get what you wish, and come with us."
Her shooting had impressed them, and now her riding did also, for these were men who lived by riding and shooting. Lok-sha, a jyabo
or king of the Go-log people, did not kill her. Escape being impossible, she married him in a Buddhist ceremony, and then to satisfy some Puritan strain within her, she persuaded Tsan-Po, the lama, to read over them in Kansu dialect the Christian ceremony.
Fortunately, the plane had not burned, and from it she brought ammunition for the rifles, field glasses, clothing, medicines, and her father's instrument case. Best of all, she brought the books that had belonged to her father and uncle.
Having often assisted her father, she understood the emergency treatment of wounds and rough surgery. This knowledge became a valuable asset and solidified her position in the community.
As soon as Anna's son was born, she realized the time would come when, if they were not rescued, he would become jyabo,
so she began a careful record of migration dates, grass conditions, and rainfall. If it was in her power, she was going to give him the knowledge to be the best leader possible.
Excerpted from Beyond the Great Snow Mountains by Louis L'Amour. . Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.